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30th October 2006

Ludlow CastleMonday - 10.35pm : I'm not keen on this changing the clocks business. I now wake up an hour earlier than I want to and I have to drive home in the dark. I can change the waking up early, but it's going to be a while before I get to drive home in the light again.

I've spent most of the weekend in Ludlow, visiting a friend. We spent the time talking, drinking wine and watching 10 episodes of Bones and 2 episodes of Torchwood. Fear not, we did manage to pull ourselves away from the TV and go for a walk around Ludlow. We both took our cameras and had a good photography session around the castle and river. You can find my results over at Flickr.

Talking of Torchwood... Is it me or does John Barrowman remind you of Tom Cruise?

On a side note... Robbie's new album, Rudebox, went straight into the UK album chart at number 1!

Thanks for comments to Andrea, Jolynn, Utenzi, Kevin, Liza Marie, Nick and Karen.

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23rd October 2006

Monday - 10.30pm : We've just had a phone call from somebody down the road. Dad was visiting them this afternoon and had left his keys there. He'd not even noticed. He'd forget his head if it wasn't screwed on! In another daft moment... Mum couldn't find her glasses on Saturday evening and they were due to go out for a meal with friends. She looked everywhere and couldn't find them at all. I glanced at the table and saw Dad's glasses. I looked at Dad... You guessed it, he was wearing Mum's glasses! The older Dad gets, the dafter he gets!

I was due to have an out-patient hospital appointment tomorrow afternoon, but for some unknown reason it's been cancelled and I've been given a new date. It's now at the end of November. So I'm still no closer to finding out what's going on. I still suspect Irritable Bowel Sydrome, but I guess they have to go through all these tests especially since Dad had Bowel Cancer. On a side note... Monty Python star Terry Jones has been diagnosed with Bowel Cancer, but Doctors believe they have caught it at an early stage. Good luck, Terry.

4 GenerationsI've now started delving into Mum's side of the family tree. I visited my grandparents on Saturday and Nan dug out a box of photos and let me bring some home to scan in. This one is of 4 generations - (from left to right) my Great Great Grandmother (Sophie), Nan (Elizabeth), Mum (Daisy) and Great Grandmother (Annie Sophia). I didn't get any photos of Granddad's side of the family, but next time I'm there I'll ask him if he's got any I can borrow. I did get some names and dates from him, and from that, through census records, I have so far managed to get back to my Great Great Great Great Grandfather who was born around 1791.

Robbie's new album, Rudebox was released today. I've only had time to listen to it once since I got home from work. I have to say my favourite song from the album is 'Viva Life On Mars' - It reminds me of his work with Guy Chambers. I bought the 'Special Edition' version, but haven't had a chance to check out the DVD yet.

Time for me to get going. Thanks to Karen, Miss M, Nick, Morah Mummy, Cyberevolution, Andrea, Kerry and Liza Marie.

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20th October 2006

MarkFriday - 10.35pm : I rushed into work just after 8am yesterday morning to ask a huge favour in taking yesterday and today off work so I could go down to London. I was given the go ahead so I filled in a holiday form, got it signed and then rushed home to get ready (I do wish people would give you more than 24hrs notice when you've won a competition... Mind you, I bet work were wishing I'd given them more than an hour's notice!).

Work is currently being done on the railway line between Shrewsbury and Birmingham, so a detour via Crewe (which is in the opposite direction to London!) had to be taken. Thankfully it didn't take much longer than the trip usually takes.

The "World Exclusive DVD Screening" of Take That - The Ultimate Tour was held at the Apollo Cinema on Lower Regent Street. It might have been a "World Exclusive" screening, but the Take That lads were nowhere to be seen (apart from on screen, that is!). No goodie bags either. Do I expect too much? Probably! Still, the cinema was one of the most comfortable I've been in (and I've been in a few and not just in the UK either - France and Canada, too).

When the DVD screening began it felt like I was right there watching them live all over again (except the DVD was filmed at Manchester Stadium and I saw them at Birmingham NEC and Milton Keynes Bowl). The cinema errupted into cheers and clapping, before settling down to watch the concert. Each song ended with applause from the cinema and everyone joined in with the raising the arms and clapping during "Never Forget". Everyone loved it!

My only thoughts were that around 30 minutes of footage seemed to be missing. The Beatles medley was noticeably missing. I started to feel disappointed that part of show had been edited out, but then began to suspect that maybe the missing songs would be included in the special features part of the DVD. Now I'm home, a quick check of the DVD listing shows me the missing parts of the concert are actually included in Monday's release of the DVD. Obviously they wanted to leave us wanting more! So as soon as I get my hands on that DVD I'll be watching it all over again so I can see those parts the screening missed out. Can't wait!

I had a decent night's sleep at the hotel last night. I had just a couple of disturbances, one being somebody shouting down the hotel corridor around about 3am, which left me fighting to get back to sleep. I then slept through until my alarm went off at 8am, which was quite surprising. GMTV were doing an exclusive on Take That's new single 'Patience', so I watched that while getting ready (Well, I could hardly miss it!).

With a few hours to kill before catching the train back home one place I just had to visit was the Cybercandy store. It's always on my list when I go to London. I picked up a few cans of Mountain Dew (Cybercandy is one of the few places we can get MD in the UK) along with a couple of Mint Twix chocolate bars (which I'd never seen before). I tried not to look around the shop too much or else I might have bought the whole shop!

I also popped into Borders to buy a couple of magazines. I got what I wanted, but didn't hang around too much after I spotted a TV camera pointing in my direction. Thankfully, I don't think they were filming at the time!

So now I'm back home and tired! I always buy a tube day pass and spend most of the time walking - I think you see more of the city that way.

Thanks to Daystar, Sueellen, Utenzi, Cyberevolution, Karen, Liza Marie, Jolynn and Andrea.

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18th October 2006

Wednesday - 9.25pm : If my mobile phone rings and the display shows "Private Number" or a number I don't know then I ignore the call. The majority of these calls are either wrong numbers or sales people. So today when my phone rang and showed "Private Number" I didn't answer. I might just change that policy in future. Unknowingly, I had just missed a very important call.

Thankfully, they had a back-up plan in contacting me otherwise I'd have missed the opportunity of a lifetime. The email I received said "Congratulations! You have won a pair of tickets to attend the world exclusive screening of 'TAKE THAT The Ultimate Tour' DVD in London on Thursday 19th October"!

Note the date. Yes, tomorrow. London is 3.5 - 4 hours from here by train. So guess what I'll be doing at 8am tomorrow morning... That's right, begging work to give me 2 days off work! It's an evening thing, so I'd never be able to get back home in time for work on Friday morning. Thankfully, work are nice people so I'm hoping it won't be too much of a problem. *Fingers crossed!* You can't buy these tickets, so I have no intention of missing this opportunity!

I hadn't really budgeted for a trip to London this month or this side of Christmas, in fact, but I'll work something out. I'll just have to be crafty with Christmas presents this year and be very tight on my spending.

Thanks for comments go out to Liss, Jolynn, Kevin, Mike, Nick, Corinne, Andrea and Liza Marie.

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15th October 2006

Sunday - 9.45pm : I have a problem with official websites. You know, websites of bands, singers etc. Why is it they are rarely up-to-date? There seems to be a trend of the admin putting the news in the forum, which is fine for people who have time to go searching through messages, but if there's official news then I want to see it on the news section of the website. If a news section isn't used, then what's the point of it being on the website?

An example is the news that Justin Hawkins quit The Darkness. A friend told me she'd heard it on the radio and then read it in a national newspaper. I headed over to the official website to find out if it was true. I find nothing in the news section about it. I decided to head to the website's forum to see what fans were saying about it. Low and behold, there in the forum is an official message from the band. Now why couldn't they have saved me some time and put it on the news page?

Another guilty website is the official Take That website. The news section is so out of date that the last news item is from before the tour which ended in June! They have a new single out soon as well as a new album and tour DVD, but to find out about those you have to go looking through the forum (which isn't small!).

What the DuckEnough of the rant, I have a recommendation for you - What the Duck. It's a photography themed comic strip by a guy called Aaron Johnson. It's well worth checking out.

It's been a quiet weeekend, so I rented 3 DVDs. First up was United 93. A tear-jerking emotional film based on the events of September 11th. The main storyline follows the passengers, staff and hijackers of the United 93 plane, while we also see the events unfolding in the Boston and New York air traffic control centres. An honest film worth watching.

The second DVD I watched was Slither. I'm not a great fan of horrors at the moment, but this has humour and stars Nathan Fillion, so I had to give it a try. I felt that Nathan's character was the one who injected the humour into this slightly weird film. There's no doubt it's a B-grade film, but it's still enjoyable and even had me turning away in parts. Warning - Don't eat just before/while you're watching Slither, especially if you have a weak stomach. Seeing fat red slug-like things forcing their way into people's mouths made me feel slightly ill since I'd not long had my lunch! It's not really a scary film and won't make you jump out of your skin, so if you don't like scary films you may still like this one.

The final DVD was The Wild. It's an animated film voiced by the likes of Kiefer Sutherland (Samson the Lion) and Eddie Izzard (Nigel the Koala). It's about a bunch of animals who go on an adventure searching for Samson's son Ryan who is accidentally shipped to the wild. I enjoyed watching The Wild and found it quite funny. One to watch with the kids and if you haven't got any kids then why not be a big kid and watch it anyway?!

Thanks to Liss, Andrea, Liza Marie, Kevin, Thumper, The Queen, Prego and Rashbre.

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12th October 2006

The BoysThursday - 9.15pm : I've been doing more family research, including getting copies of 2 wills. I find that some counties are better than others for providing information. While some counties will allow you to search and order copies of all kinds of things online, others hold everything at the records office and you have to make an appointment to go there and search.

The boys in the photo to the right are Granddad's (Dad's Dad) 4 elder brothers - Alfred (Fred), Richard (Dick), Edward (Ned) and John (Jack). It seems nobody was called by their proper names in those days! I think my brother looked like John (the one on the right) when he was that age. (You can click on the photo to enlarge it).

We were at a family funeral in Bolton on Monday. Dad mentioned I was researching the family tree and my cousin (well, really Dad's cousin's daughter!) showed me a picture of 4 of the sisters. We don't have any photos of Granddad's sisters, which is a shame, so I'm going to ask if we can get a copy.

I think I've managed to get Lisa hooked on family research now too! We're pretty good like that. We're always getting each other into different things.

I woke up to some good news this morning. Take That won an award last night for the Best Live Return at the Vodafone Live Music Awards. They beat bands like Pink Floyd, The Who and Depeche Mode! I'm not surprised though. It was truely amazing to see them live again and they were always known for putting on a great show back in the 90s.

Talking of Take That... Their brand new single 'Patience' (after more than 10 years!) was aired on Radio 1 on Monday morning. It's wonderful and beautiful. I'd definitely recommend the song to anyone. I can't wait to hear the rest of the new album!

I should warn you really. I was totally addicted to Take That in the 90s and nothing has changed. The boys are back and I am happy!

Now for some sad news... Justin Hawkins has left The Darkness. He's quit so he can recover from his drink & drug addictions. While I wasn't that impressed by their 2nd album (I did like it though), the 1st was brilliant. The Darkness are purely amazing as a live act (having seen them so many times I should know!), but I just can't see it working without the flamboyant showman, Justin. I've heard Richie (who replaced Frankie not so long ago) may become lead singer. Whilst I have no doubt he's talented, I just think The Darkness have lost what made them different. Good luck Justin!

Thanks for comments go out to Mandy, Skye, Andrea, Liss, Kevin, Liza Marie and Jolynn.

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8th October 2006

Me and GarySunday - 8.25pm : I went to the cinema on Friday night. We saw The Devil Wears Prada. It's an easy going film and a good one. It's about a writer (Anne Hathaway) who applies for the job of second assistant to the to the Editor-in-Chief (Meryl Streep) of THE fashion magazine called "Runway". It's not the easiest job in the world! I have it on good authority (from somebody who has worked in the fashion industry) that the film isn't far off what it's really like. Anyway, it's another film I'd recommend!

I had an early start yesterday. I left the house at 7.15am and made my way to Manchester. Gary Barlow (lead singer of Take That) was doing a book signing in Trafford shopping centre for his autobiography, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world! I got there around 9.30am and saw a small queue outside WHSmith's. I had been expecting a few more people. My problem was I couldn't find the end of the queue, everyone seems taped off. Another girl looked just as lost, so we both asked somebody in the queue where it ended. She pointed at the stairs and said "Up there". We walked up the stairs past girls sat down. At the top of the stairs we saw more people queued up. The queue was much longer than I thought it would be! We joined the end of the queue and behind us it steadily got longer. In the end the queue seemed to wrap around half of the shopping centre (and it's no small place!).

When Gary arrived at 11am the crowd downstairs went mad with screams. All these women now in their 20s, 30s and 40s all of a sudden had regressed back to their teens! We couldn't see him from where we were but we were in no doubt that he was there. I got talking to a few others in the queue. We talked about the old Take That days, the recent Take That tour, Gary's book, his TV interview on Friday evening and more. Everyone was so friendly.

It took just over 2 hours to get downstairs and to the small queue in front of Gary. I'd got my book and camera ready. One of the girls I'd been talking to was having trouble with her camera and it wouldn't work. Since we'd been talking in the queue I told her she could have her photo taken with my camera and I'd email it to her. She was so grateful and couldn't stop thanking me.

When it was my turn I stepped towards Gary and he said "Hello" and asked how I was. I replied and we had our photo taken together (although he was looking at a different camera when the picture was taken). I was just about to walk off when he asked if he'd signed my book. (Doh!) I replied he hadn't, so he signed it and thanked me for waiting so long (I'd wait all day for that man!). I thanked him and walked away with a big smile on my face! I'd finally met the man I'd been longing to meet when I was a teenager.

Gary's on GMTV in the morning and I can't wait for Tuesday. Take That's brand new single 'Patience' will be aired on Radio 1! A new single after nearly 11 years! (I'm still excited from yesterday!).

Thanks to Kevin, Liza Marie, Andrea, Dave, Paste, Melly, Tracie and Brony.

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4th October 2006

AlfredWednesday - 8.25pm : I've been doing some more work on my family tree. This time I followed the line of my Dad's mother's line. It proved a little difficult. A number of the census records had noted down wrong spellings of the surname. A 'u' would turn into an 'a', 'e' or 'o', and so on. Other problems when researching family history can be second marriages, children born out of wedlock, step-children. I've encountered a few of those along the journey and no doubt I'll encounter a few more.

The photo is of my Great Grandfather Alfred (click the photo to enlarge). Dad tells me there was a reason for his long beard. Alfred once had a tooth infection which spread to his jaw and it resulted in him having part of his jaw removed. To hide this he grew a beard!

Most of the male's in the family were at some point agricultural labourers. However, Alfred's father was listed as a 'mole-catcher'!

On a side note... It's my brother's birthday today. He's the grand old age of 30. Happy Birthday, AJ!

I watched Hollow Man II on Sunday evening. The film went straight to DVD and had a much lower budget than the first one, but don't let that put you off it. Since Christian Slater's character is invisible for most of the film it was important to have a well-suited voice. Christian's voice was perfect for the job. He's got that instantly recognisable and creepy voice. There's plenty of action and a few deaths along the way. Worth watching, even if you haven't seen the first one. I don't usually give sequels without the original characters/actors a chance, but I'm glad I did this time.

I might have another film to review over the weekend. I'm off to the cinema on Friday evening. I'm not sure what we're going to see yet though.

My sleep has been a bit better over the past couple of nights. The only disturbance came from the cats!

Thanks for comments go to Valerie, The Bluest Butterfly, Liza Marie, Andrea, Cyberevolution, Katie, Elizabeth, Mike, Utenzi, Kevin and Jolynn.

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1st October 2006

Sunday - 2.15pm : It's October already and the weather is really showing it. We've had heavy rain and winds on and off for the past few days now. My only firm plans for this month are to go to a book signing next weekend and also a hospital appointment at the end of the month. Exciting, eh?!

I seem to have slipped back into not sleeping very well lately. The past couple of nights I have had bad dreams and woke myself up sometime between 2am - 3am. Then getting back to sleep seems to take forever and even then it's a disrupted sleep. It becomes a vicious circle. At a weekend I end up having a lie-in, trying to catch up on missed sleep, which then means I can't get to sleep in the evening. On a weekday I go to work really tired and end up falling asleep on the sofa in the evening, also meaning I can't get to sleep at night. I've had bad sleep on and off since I was a kid, but I'm hoping it won't last for long this time.

A friend of mine is doing a tandem skydive soon (He must be nuts!). Alan is doing the skydive in aid of Cancer Research, so it's for a worthy cause. Dad beat bowel cancer a few years ago and since Alan is doing his part in being thrown out of a plane at 10,000 feet I've made a donation. If you'd like to help then you can donate straight to Cancer Research at Alan's JustGiving page.

I watched Pierrepoint (a.k.a The Last Hangman) last night. It's based on the true-life story of Albert Pierrepoint, Britain's most notorious hangman. Timothy Spall plays the master hangman who had to execute some of Britain's most infamous murderers. Spall seems to be able to lend himself to any character and Pierrepoint is no different. A British film I'd definitely recommend.

I'll be watching Hollow Man II later on today. I'm always a bit wary of film sequels that don't include the original characters/actors, but it's Christian Slater who has drawn me to this one. Kevin Bacon did a great job in the first film (I can't believe he's nearing 50!), so I hope I enjoy the sequel too.

Please send Karen and her family your thoughts and prayers. Karen's Dad hasn't been well over the past week or so and I'm sure thughts and prayers would be welcome.

Thanks to Andrea, Liza Marie, Miss M, Kerry, Mike, Tom and Liss.

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